Chapter 37:

Homecoming paranoia

The Sequence of Kai


It’s looking back at me. Bookmark here

No, when I open my eyes, she is looking back at me. Even though she doesn’t turn towards me, only glancing my way with cold eyes, they are eyes. Bookmark here

She lets go of my wrist, handing me a note and a mobile phone, the skin that brushes against me is neither warm nor cold. Bookmark here

The note, written in perfect French, tells me to call the police and provides me with an address. It also offers what I think is a warning: I was never here is written underneath the rest. Bookmark here

When Renée sees this happen, she settles some, stops screaming and starts eyeing the girl in the mask. Bookmark here

I call the emergency services.Bookmark here

“Ambulance, fire or police?”Bookmark here

“Police.”Bookmark here

While I’m being transferred to the police, the girl peers out into the hallway and then closes the door.Bookmark here

“Paris metropolitan police what’s the emergency?”Bookmark here

“I’m uh, I’m being held hostage.”Bookmark here

“Are you at liberty to speak freely?”Bookmark here

I look at the girl who gave me the phone, she seems more preoccupied with watching the door than anything else.Bookmark here

“I think so…”Bookmark here

“Can you provide any information about your location?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, one moment… We’re being held in the Malieon Estate, north of Guveaux.”Bookmark here

“Ok, we’re going to get someone out to you. Stay on the line if-”Bookmark here

The girl wraps her hand around mine, forcing me to hang up the call. She leaves the phone with me but takes the note back.Bookmark here

She turns back to us and puts her finger to where her lips would be under her mask to shush us. Lowering her hand to the ground as she points at me, she lets me know I should sit and so I comply. Then she sits on the end of the bed and peers out of the cracks of the boarded-up windows. Bookmark here

I close my eyes and try to see what it is she’s looking at. It’s a mess trying to see beyond its raging symbols but off in the distance, I see someone standing out in the open.Bookmark here

If that’s who she’s looking for, I don’t know how she’s missing them. She keeps flicking her eyes left and right as if she hasn’t found what she’s looking for.Bookmark here

After a couple of minutes, the figure disappears into the forest around us but the girl in the mask remains vigilant.Bookmark here

With nothing else for me to see, I open my eyes and then the three of us remain in silence.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Fifty-seven minutes later we hear the sounds of cars in the distance. I was able to count the minutes because the masked girl never took the phone from me. Bookmark here

I don’t know what she wants and I’m too scared to ask, I have to turn away from her every time I blink. Bookmark here

I hear car doors open and shut then the masked girl jumps up and dashes out to the hall. She looks left and right, and then slices her hand off the shattered glass doorknob.Bookmark here

“Aghhhh!”Bookmark here

Renée, who has been silent this entire time, yells out in pain. A cut has opened up in her hand. The masked girl looks back at her and then dashes off to the right. Bookmark here

At the same time the police burst in through the front, they seem to have confirmed that the guards are dead. They’re shouting a lot and the other girls in the house are shouting back so that no one can be heard.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The next few days are a hell of sleepless nights and raw eyes. Bookmark here

The police were understandably baffled when they arrived to a hostage situation with no one but hostages. All the girls that were rescued that day were held for questioning, even though they weren’t the ones who had done wrong. With the two guards on duty dead, there was no one else to question.Bookmark here

I was subjected to some particularly intensive questioning as the one who made the call to the police. They asked me how I’d gotten the phone, how I knew the address or why I hung up. Bookmark here

I couldn’t tell them what I’d seen, what had happened without sounding completely insane. I’m not a good liar so I didn’t do that either. I told them a half-truth, that I didn’t remember much from that day, that I only remembered being scared.Bookmark here

Every time I closed my eyes, I could tell they didn’t believe me. They knew something else must’ve happened, but they had no evidence. People don’t end up shot of natural causes after all, doors don’t kick themselves down either.Bookmark here

h̶̜̣̮̬͛͋ͅg̸̥̏d̵̺̻̦̼͚̮̋j̴̫̳̥̓͊̕̚ͅh̵̳̫̣͑̑̈à̵̧̛̜̰͖̖̇͊̊g̴̨̧̖͇̺̤̋̌͝j̷̣̳͇̱̆̆̍̈̕a̴̯̘̝̪̭͂͑̇s̶̗͎̘̭̠̽̀̊̓d̵̻̹̻͖͔̀̎g̶̩͕̙̼̟͉͊̓̋̅͐̊j̴͔̎̽̊̀d̸͇̱̻̮̮͋k̵̟̠͎̓͛̑̑̇͠j̶̡̮͒͊͘f̷̧̫͍̱̉͐͂͝g̸̖͝r̸̢̥̱̥͖͌̑̌̇̓̿ͅṷ̸̙͔͖̙̓̒̇̽̽̾î̷̗͉̩̙͉͇̿̈́e̶̞̟̰͙̬̒̏͒ͅj̴͉̬̩̙̫͑w̷͙̰̤̉̍̾ͅn̷͔̤̲̾̾̋̎̽͘f̶͙̳̫̫̹̅̌̚o̸̡̙̻̞̟̔̓͘į̵̯͂̾͘c̷̭͖͍̣͛̀͐͑ͅñ̴̩͙̘̝̤̒̚c̵̛̘̾̀̅͠ǫ̵͓̼̀̄̆ͅw̸̛͈̓͛͗̀n̷̗̥̠͂͗͆̚͜͝ũ̶̠̼͝r̵̡̠̭̻̽i̸͔̹͐̃͝n̸̻̺̰̱̹̺͐̋̔̍̚ò̷̞͕̠̥͚̓̿̉̚͠f̵̧̫̙̜͠h̷͇͔͓̗͚̄̈́̅̋ͅh̶̜̣̮̬͛͋ͅg̸̥̏d̵̺̻̦̼͚̮̋j̴̫̳̥̓͊̕̚ͅh̵̳̫̣͑̑̈à̵̧̛̜̰͖̖̇͊̊g̴̨̧̖͇̺̤̋̌͝j̷̣̳͇̱̆̆̍̈̕a̴̯̘̝̪̭͂͑̇s̶̗͎̘̭̠̽̀̊̓d̵̻̹̻͖͔̀̎g̶̩͕̙̼̟͉͊̓̋̅͐̊j̴͔̎̽̊̀d̸͇̱̻̮̮͋k̵̟̠͎̓͛̑̑̇͠j̶̡̮͒͊͘f̷̧̫͍̱̉͐͂͝g̸̖͝r̸̢̥̱̥͖͌̑̌̇̓̿ͅṷ̸̙͔͖̙̓̒̇̽̽̾î̷̗͉̩̙͉͇̿̈́e̶̞̟̰͙̬̒̏͒ͅj̴͉̬̩̙̫͑w̷͙̰̤̉̍̾ͅn̷͔̤̲̾̾̋̎̽͘f̶͙̳̫̫̹̅̌̚o̸̡̙̻̞̟̔̓͘į̵̯͂̾͘c̷̭͖͍̣͛̀͐͑ͅñ̴̩͙̘̝̤̒̚c̵̛̘̾̀̅͠ǫ̵͓̼̀̄̆ͅw̸̛͈̓͛͗̀n̷̗̥̠͂͗͆̚͜͝ũ̶̠̼͝r̵̡̠̭̻̽i̸͔̹͐̃͝n̸̻̺̰̱̹̺͐̋̔̍̚ò̷̞͕̠̥͚̓̿̉̚͠f̵̧̫̙̜͠h̷͇͔͓̗͚̄̈́̅̋ͅh̶̜̣̮̬͛͋ͅg̸̥̏d̵̺̻̦̼͚̮̋j̴̫̳̥̓͊̕̚ͅh̵̳̫̣͑̑̈à̵̧̛̜̰͖̖̇͊̊Bookmark here

I’ve gotten more used to the symbols, but it still hurts to close my eyes. I haven’t been sleeping well. They took me to a station in Paris somewhere, there are so many people, so many things in a city that closing my eyes only makes the world brighter. Bookmark here

One of the days the investigators asked me about the masked girl. They’d been keeping us all separate, to make sure our stories don’t influence each other, but there’s no one other than Renée that could’ve told them about the masked girl. Bookmark here

They asked me if a masked person had broken down the door and given me the phone. They asked about the note and gave an accurate description of what she was wearing. I told them that I did not remember anyone, that I did not remember how I had gotten the phone.Bookmark here

By saying this I’m making Renée’s story less believable. On the day we were rescued, when the officers first entered our room, she screamed at them about how a masked person had hurt her from a distance and run off. The officers swept the area but didn’t find her. Bookmark here

I’d think I imagined it too if I couldn’t still see the symbols. They’re going to think she’s crazy. I don’t want to force that on her but… I’m sorry Renée, I just want to go home. Bookmark here

I remember that warning, that threat on the note the masked girl handed me. Even if she saved us, I’m still scared of her because I don’t know why she did…Bookmark here

A week on from that day and I’m finally being released. They’ve decided that they’re not going to get anything more out of me. Bookmark here

I’ve been told that I can’t go back to my apartment, it’s an active crime scene now. Kylian killed himself, at least that’s what the cops think, I’m not so sure. He definitely didn’t do it out of guilt, and I have a hard time believing he would feel sorry enough for himself to do it otherwise. Bookmark here

Much more likely that he was killed, the masked girl had to find out where I was somehow. I wasn’t asked any questions about it anyway; the police are treating it as an open and shut case and I don’t care to open it again. Bookmark here

I’m too tired.Bookmark here

I’m sorry Kylian. I don’t know if you deserve my sorrow but I’m sorry still.Bookmark here

My mother is waiting for me in the lobby when I get out. Upon seeing me, she runs up sobbing and hugs me. Bookmark here

It’s uncomfortable. Bookmark here

ȃ̵͖s̸͇̦͖̅̌̆͊͂͝i̵̞̳̹̣͇̦̓̋o̴̢̺̮͖̭͎͊͘͘à̵̡̤̙̘̳̊̀́̚h̶̨͎͚̽̌̍͆̕͜s̶̻̦̃̚ä̵̡͚͕͖̿o̶̱̳͆̇̂d̵̙͆̈́s̷̢͇̣̟̀̌̄́i̸̎̽̀ͅj̸̨̝̭͙̤̍͆k̷̗̗͍̫͇̬̍͒̾̅d̷̙͔̯͆́͜h̷̘͓̆̾͐̀̐̅l̸̻̈́̎ḩ̵̊k̸̜̥̂̓̇͊̚f̶̧̱͔͎̂k̶̳̯̫͖͈͛̀̂̄̀̈́a̸̦̋̂̄͝ś̸̙̬̙̭̖̃͛̉̽l̷̨̦̲̱̖̠̎̔͛̈ȃ̵͖s̸͇̦͖̅̌̆͊͂͝i̵̞̳̹̣͇̦̓̋o̴̢̺̮͖̭͎͊͘͘à̵̡̤̙̘̳̊̀́̚h̶̨͎͚̽̌̍͆̕͜s̶̻̦̃̚ä̵̡͚͕͖̿o̶̱̳͆̇̂d̵̙͆̈́s̷̢͇̣̟̀̌̄́i̸̎̽̀ͅj̸̨̝̭͙̤̍͆k̷̗̗͍̫͇̬̍͒̾̅d̷̙͔̯͆́͜h̷̘͓̆̾͐̀̐̅l̸̻̈́̎ḩ̵̊k̸̜̥̂̓̇͊̚f̶̧̱͔͎̂k̶̳̯̫͖͈͛̀̂̄̀̈́a̸̦̋̂̄͝ś̸̙̬̙̭̖̃͛̉̽l̷̨̦̲̱̖̠̎̔͛̈ȃ̵͖s̸͇̦͖̅̌̆͊͂͝i̵̞̳̹̣͇̦̓̋o̴̢̺̮͖̭͎͊͘͘à̵̡̤̙̘̳̊̀́̚h̶̨͎͚̽̌̍͆̕͜s̶̻̦̃̚ä̵̡͚͕͖̿o̶̱̳͆̇̂d̵̙͆̈́s̷̢͇̣̟̀̌̄́i̸̎̽̀ͅj̸̨̝̭͙̤̍͆k̷̗̗͍̫͇̬̍͒̾̅d̷̙͔̯͆́͜h̷̘͓̆̾͐̀̐̅l̸̻̈́̎ḩ̵̊k̸̜̥̂̓̇͊̚f̶̧̱͔͎̂k̶̳̯̫͖͈͛̀̂̄̀̈́a̸̦̋̂̄͝ś̸̙̬̙̭̖̃͛̉̽l̷̨̦̲̱̖̠̎̔͛̈ȃ̵͖s̸͇̦͖̅̌̆͊͂͝i̵̞̳̹̣͇̦̓̋o̴̢̺̮͖̭͎͊͘͘à̵̡̤̙̘̳̊̀́̚h̶̨͎͚̽̌̍͆̕͜s̶̻̦̃̚ä̵̡͚͕͖̿o̶̱̳͆̇̂d̵̙͆̈́s̷̢͇̣̟̀̌̄́i̸̎̽̀ͅj̸̨̝̭͙̤̍͆k̷̗̗͍̫͇̬̍͒̾̅d̷̙͔̯͆́͜h̷̘͓̆̾͐̀̐̅l̸̻̈́̎ḩ̵̊k̸̜̥̂̓̇͊̚Bookmark here

To close my eyes and know so certainly that this affection is genuine… I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Affection is to be worked for, why is this hug warm?Bookmark here

“Mallory, I’m so glad you’re OK!”Bookmark here

The hug lasts for a couple of minutes before we walk in silence to the car. Bookmark here

Mom is still drying the tears off as she gets into the front seat. The passenger seat is free for me, which I should’ve expected. If Dad had bothered coming, why would he wait in the car? Bookmark here

I get in beside her and we start through the evening traffic of Paris.Bookmark here

It’s silence to the motorway as I struggle to keep my eyes open. The sights of the city hurt when I close them, but I haven’t slept in days, keeping them open hurts too. Bookmark here

I finally close them when we get onto the motorway, the symbols zip by me too fast to understand any of them.Bookmark here

“Mallory….”Bookmark here

Not now Mom, I just want to rest.Bookmark here

“We need to talk.”Bookmark here

Is now really the time to talk about this? Even if I couldn’t already see what you want to say, I would’ve known. You’re the only woman I know more transparent than me.Bookmark here

“You don’t have to bother. I get it. I’m coming back to live with you, I’m not going back to college, I’m not going back to Paris. I’m going to take all the time I need to recover whether I want to or not, isn’t that right?”Bookmark here

“Well….yes.”Bookmark here

I know she was going to tell me I couldn’t go back for now, that this was a temporary arrangement but we both would’ve understood it was something more permanent. Bookmark here

My parents never wanted me to go to college, much less one so far away from home. Dad had worked hard to make sure we never had to. That’s what I was told. Did I really want to throw away the opportunities he’d made for me? I was told that too. Was I that selfish? That arrogant? That stupid?Bookmark here

“It’ll be good for you! Your father says he’ll find something for you to do, he’s even trying to get tomorrow off work to spend time with you.”Bookmark here

“Tell him not to.”Bookmark here

“….why not?”Bookmark here

“I’m tired.”Bookmark here

I turn away from her and pretend to sleep. Bookmark here

Well, my eyes have been closed this entire time, she already knew I was sleeping, now she knows I’m ignoring her too.Bookmark here

I look out at the cars overtaking us. Bookmark here

1, 2, 3…..4, 5, 6…. Bookmark here

It’s not as effective as counting sheep but it dulls the mind. Bookmark here

I notice there’s one car that keeps steady with us, dropping neither too far behind us nor speeding off beyond. The driver is very nervous, that’s what I can read from their symbols, though I can’t tell why. Bookmark here

A passenger in the back is surprisingly calm in comparison. Maybe it’s just a nervous driver. I decide to take a look to see if their face is the anxious type.Bookmark here

I open my eyes, but it takes a second for them to refocus on account of my fatigue. The driver looks like he’s seen better days, an office type who’s currently missing his jacket and tie, shirt left unbuttoned at the top. Bookmark here

Probably got fired or had a particularly bad day at the office. Though it’s not overly common for workers who commute this long distance to carpool.Bookmark here

That’s right he had a passenger, where are they? There’s no one in the back seat but I swear I saw the symbols, the coil. I blink and the coil flashes before me, but when my eyes open back up, the person has vanished. I close my eyes again to be certain and sure enough, the symbols in the shape of a person appear. Bookmark here

Has this always been the case? Have invisible people been stalking us all along? What else have I been unable to see until now?Bookmark here

I turn back to see if there’s someone sitting in our car but there’s no one there.Bookmark here

“Are you OK Mallory?”Bookmark here

I ‘look’ back over at the other car. The figure has now turned to face me. It knows I can see it. Reaching forward, it puts its arm around the driver’s neck from behind. My eyes burst open and see his neck being crushed by some invisible force. A split second later the car speeds up and far overtakes us, breaking the speed limit to do so.Bookmark here

“Where’s he off to in a hurry huh?”Bookmark here

My mother tries to break the tension with what she must consider a joke but it doesn’t work.Bookmark here

I’m shaking. I can’t breathe. I can tell that that car isn’t going to stop following us.Bookmark here

Sure enough, half an hour later, I can see the same car just in front of us. It follows us until we turn off to my hometown of Touen.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
You can resume reading from this paragraph.